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Mid-tier outfit Abbott Tout has signed up London intellectual property partner Stephen Digby as a member of its Sydney entertainment practice
Digby, who is the former head of intellectual property at Davenport Lyons, has returned to Australia after spending more than 16 years abroad. Digby is qualified as a solicitor and barrister in England and Wales and will become a partner at Abbott Tout once he is admitted to practise in Australia. He will work alongside entertainment partner Robert McCormack, straddling the entertainment and IP teams. McCormack is best known for his representation of theatrical clients, both in Australia and abroad, and Digby's app-ointment comes as part of Abbott Tout's plan to broaden its entertainment portfolio to include the provision of advice to the film industry. The firm has also appointed former Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance industrial officer Matthew Fitzgerald as a lawyer in the team. "With globalisation and the fact that film is a burgeoning industry here in Australia, it would be silly to ignore the opportunity that this presents to expand our existing, and very strong, practice in entertainment," said McCormack. "That's where Stephen fits in perfectly. "Our strategy will be two-pronged in the first instance - to talk to those that we know are either already in the business of film financing or are about to enter that market, and also to talk to producers." Digby's past work has included advising on film production and finance for Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and acting for late Broadway producer David Merrick in a contractual dispute relating to the musical 42nd Street, where he came up against McCormack. Other clients have included the Guardian Media Group, fashion retail company French Connection and Virgin Radio. Abbott Tout's entertainment clients include the Cameron Mackintosh group, the Australian Entertainment Industry Association and Baz Luhrman's Bazmark Group. "When I met everyone at Abbott Tout it was about two weeks after 11 Septem-ber, so it was probably not the best time to be talking about expanding businesses," said Digby. "A lot of the people I spoke to elsewhere were in contracting mode. "The thing that really impressed me was the real positivity with which the firm approached the business. Obviously they were aware of the global recession, but notwithstanding that, they were very keen to look at the business and very positive about the potential for developing it."